GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Electric vehicle job training programs are expanding in Michigan.
Grand Rapids Community College is investing in EV technology and the changes in the industry are affecting almost every part of its manufacturing programs, according to Julie Parks, the dean of workforce training.
“We aren’t the Rust Belt any longer. We are really becoming a Silicon Valley belt over here,” Parks said. “It’s not just one box. It’s multiple things that we’re putting together to meet the needs of employers and while that may sound like it’s easy, it’s a big change for colleges to look at degrees and certificates where we’re integrating so many different programs together.”
The changes include staying up to date with manufacturing equipment, computer programing and design and automotive tools.
State funding is making it easier for people to attend college or go back to school. Last week, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilcrest announced the new Michigander EV Scholars Program, on top of other incentives like the Reconnect scholarships.
“I think the state’s Reconnect program and the new Michigan Achievement Scholarship are key to getting people into these programs at very little cost or no cost for them to come back and learn what they need to learn,” Parks said.
LG Energy Solution in Holland, which makes batteries for electric vehicles, is partnering in the Michigander EV Scholars Program and many local universities, according to Denise Gray, the head of external affairs and government relations for the company.
“The goal is once they graduate, they will be eligible to receive a $10,000 retaining bonus if they’ve signed up with the companies that have signed up to be a part of the EV Scholars Program,” Gray said.
The money will bring in positions like engineers which will have to agree to stay in their role for a year to be eligible for the state funding.
All the manufacturers are looking for workers with the skills to keep up.
“Right in Holland, Michigan, we are expanding our activities for manufacturing of battery systems. We announced last year that we got a $1.7 billion expansion happening that’s going to bring in an additional 1,200 workers right in Holland,” Gray said.